Russia and Belarus saw their International Paralympic Committee (IPC) membership suspensions reversed by an independent appeals tribunal on Wednesday, but their athletes will remain banned from competing in the six sports that the IPC oversees directly — swimming included.
The tribunal said that IPC members should have taken more evidence into account before voting to bar Russia and Belarus from the organization last November. Athletes from Russia and Belarus are restricted from most global sporting events, but suspending their administrators marked an additional step beyond what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was doing.
The future of Russian and Belarusian participation will now be decided by IPC members in September. The IOC currently supports allowing Russians and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, though the organization maintains a decision still has not been made about the Paris 2024 Olympics.
At the Beijing 2022 Paralympics last March, athletes from Russia and Belarus made the trip to China only to learn they had been banned by the IPC one day before the opening ceremony. The IPC initially said they would let them compete as neutrals until several national Paralympic committees threatened to boycott the event if Russian and Belarusian athletes were participating.
“Following the events that we saw unfold just before the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, our members made it clear that the membership status of NPCs Russia and Belarus needed to be considered by the General Assembly,” IPC president Andrew Parsons said. “We believe that our actions taken to call the 2022 Extraordinary General Assembly in Berlin and allow every member the chance to present their views on these important matters, fulfilled our obligations under our rules. Our Independent Appeals Tribunal decided differently, which is a decision we certainly respect, but disagree with. As we already had committed to do, we will bring these matters back to our General Assembly later this year, follow the Appeal Tribunal’s directions by presenting the additional evidence we have since acquired, and give our members the opportunity to decide these important matters.”
Ukraine, due in large part to a huge federal investment into Paralympic training centers around the country, is one of the success stories of the Paralympic movement. At the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021, they ranked 6th in the overall medals table with 24 gold and 98 total medals. That’s not far behind Russia (36 gold, 118 total), which was 4th under a neutral flag.
Belarus won five gold among seven total medals. All but one bronze medal came in swimming.
In combination, Russia and Belarus combined for 55 medals in swimming at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. That represents 12.5% of the medals that were offered.
Russia will made sure their athletes get into Paris 2024 – just you watch!
What a shame. . . . Ukraine War + Games = Hypocrisy